In Growers Knowledge Base, Wisconsin Hemp

What’s the big deal about USDA Certified Organic?

Workman’s Relief hemp oil is USDA Certified Organic. That simple sentence makes a big statement, and took a lot of work to earn—and we’d like to take you behind the scenes to show you just what is takes to be awarded this coveted designation.

It all started in 1990 at the United State Department of Agriculture. As consumers around the country began to understand the value and quality of organic farm products, they weren’t afraid to pay a little extra for produce and meats that were grown and raised without pesticides and hormones. In response to this growing consumer demand, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act, mandating that the USDA create the first federal standard for the production ‘organic’ crops.

The market responded to this new premium tier of products quickly, and suddenly the word ‘organic’ was plastered on everything from farm products to cosmetics—whether they were actually made of truly organic ingredients or not. After receiving pressure from actual organic farmers, and the customers who valued their products, the USDA moved to more clearly define what ‘organic’ means, and what products are worthy of the title.

USDA Certified Organic Seal

Very few producers and processors have earned the right to display this image—but we did.

Organic—a single word that requires a lot of work.

Just how complicated is it to earn a Certified USDA Organic designation? According to the USDA’s own website, it’s a straight-forward five-step process.

I. Develop an organic system plan.
II. Implement the organic system plan. Have it reviewed by a certifying agent.
III. Receive inspection.
IV. Have a certifying agent review the inspection report.
V. Receive a decision from the certifier.

That’s pretty easy, right? Not so fast. There’s a lot more behind each of those steps—especially if your product is made from the produce of multiple farms. Our grower network is focused on producing high quality CBD, fiber, and grain products to the local hemp marketplace, and our experience with certified organic hemp ensures this production from seed to final product. We are partnering directly with grower networks focusing on the same core principles in order to provide a local marketplace dedicated to the beneficial products created from organic hemp.

Everything—certified organic.

The big difference between products that are USDA Certified Organic and those claiming to be “Organically Grown” is the acre of land itself. To be certified, the acre must be proven to have not been exposed to synthetic pesticides or fertilizers for three years. Individual certifiers follow up with the paperwork to ensure complete transparency. The same is true with the crops produced. Every fertilizer, pesticide, and seed applied to the acre must be certified organic. All crops consume nutrients, and hemp is no exception. We simply feed our crops and protect them with fertilizers and pesticides that are certified organic. Most of these fertilizers and pesticides are found naturally occurring throughout the world. Examples include Neem Oil insecticide (an extract from the neem tree from Indian subcontinent) or certified organic chicken litter fertilizer.

The many benefits of USDA organic hemp stem from two main pillars: environmental sustainability, and consumer health. Cannabis is a bio-remediator, which means it consumes and stores excess nutrients, metals, or residual chemicals from the soil. It can be used as a rotational crop to restore and revitalize degraded soil types. This is extremely beneficial if contaminants are present in soil types that are to be returned to a USDA certified organic state. The active soil health practices we implement on our farms include no-till, cover-cropping, rotational grazing, and multi-species cropping systems for enhanced organic growth and sustainability. These procedures achieve environmental sustainability, but they also provide benefits to the consumer.

The USDA certified organic standards require that final products do not contain harmful additives. This is especially important when considering the consumer demand associated with alternative medicine from organic agriculture, and the natural benefits to support a healthy lifestyle. Consumers who know where their material is coming from are more likely to cover the premium associated with organic products. As expected, the cost of organic hemp from seed to final product costs more than conventional practices; however, buying local, knowing your farmer, sourcing products, and transparency are now carrying more weight with modern consumers. For this reason, family farms and their communities are well positioned to capitalize on this mutually beneficial relationship.

Driftless Extracts USDA Certified Organic Hemp Field

Driftless Extracts is the central hub of a growing eco-system of growers.

Driftless has established a leading role in our local community to uplift the agricultural sector and the rural economy in general. Our initial capital raise included 105 investors, most of which are local individuals who share our vision for the company and the future of agriculture. Some of these investors are owner/operators of family farms themselves. This created excitement for those investors and employees who identify and agree with our local economic opportunities – the ability to share in the potential profitability of organic hemp production, and the ability to work with us on our journey. In addition to our own local economy, we established educational pieces to assist other family farms and spur their local economics.

Alternatives to pesticide usage are available for organic production, and understanding the timing, effects, and plant needs associated with those alternatives is critical. We have created organic crop plans and consulting services that use sustainable practices to provide high quality end-products to consumers. The team at Driftless provides a hands-on approach to these practices by helping other growers with organic agronomic problem solving – contributing back to their respective local communities.

It’s not just the right thing, it’s the economically sound thing to do.

Driftless’ dedication to USDA certified organic hemp, preservation of land, and the local economies encompass our mission to propel family farms into the future. Our organic practices help protect the beautiful soil we have been given and builds trust and transparency with our consumers. Our comprehensive educational content and consulting services support other family farms looking to make the same impact. The local marketplace at Driftless provides a platform for family farms competing in the global agricultural sector, and ultimately strives to rejuvenate other local economies with a growing business, quality products, and a sustainable future.

Creating a USDA Certified hemp oil like Workman’s Relief wasn’t easy—but it was worth it. Our growers have a processed product they can be proud of. Our dealers and retailers can offer their customers a high-quality product that’s firmly grounded in the principles of sustainability, with the confidence USDA Organic Certification provides. And our users can access all the potential benefits of CBD oil knowing that the premium quality they paid for is present in every single bottle we sell.

Are we proud to have received the USDA’s highest designation for organic processing and product? You bet we are. And to all the grower partners in our extended hemp-producing network, we say “Thanks for all the hard work. This designation is for you. You’ve earned it.”

Sam Liegel, CCA
Chief Cultivation Officer / Driftless Extracts

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A field of fine hemp, produced by the partners of Driftless Extracts.